|Natalia Jofre:||Hello, and welcome to Hill and Ponton Social Security Disability Blog. I’m Natalia Jofre, our Social Security section director.|
|Shelly Mark:||And I am Shelly Mark, I am our senior Social Security attorney with the firm.|
|Natalia Jofre:||The last couple of blogs, we’ve talked about hearing level, getting here, how long, what happens the day of. Last one, we talked about vocational expert, because a lot of times the judges call vocational experts. The other type of expert they like to call in is a medical expert. Can you explain who that person is, and why they need to be there?|
|Shelly Mark:||Sure. The judges use medical experts frequently in cases to give them, basically, doctor’s opinions regarding the client’s conditions. Obviously, the judges can read the records in the file, just like we can, but we’re not doctors. So I can make an argument that the client meets a listing based on the severity of their spinal condition, but I can’t give a doctor’s opinion that that actually happened.|
|In a lot of cases, the judges will ask for a medical expert. Obviously, if it’s something like an orthopedic issue, they’ll ask for an orthopedic. If it’s someone with mental health, they may ask a psychiatrist to testify. Again, this person is completely independent of Social Security, and basically their role there is to read all of the records in the file and give their professional opinion as to one, whether the client meets one of those listings that we talked about previously. So they’ll go through and they will talk about why or why not the client does or does not meet that listing.|
|If they find that they do not meet the listing, the medical expert will go even further, and they will give what we call a residual functional capacity. All that means is that they’re going to tell the judge, based on this person’s limitations, this is the type of work that they can perform. Based on their physical limitations, they may only be able to perform sedentary work. The judge is going to use that testimony when he talks to the vocational expert, and when he asks them questions.|
|Natalia Jofre:||Sometimes throughout the Social Security claim, Social Security sends claimants to see one of their doctors, or a medical exam that they pay for. Would you put the medical expert in that same category, to where they’re working for Social Security, or is it like the vocational expert, where they’re really an independent testimony source per se?|
|Shelly Mark:||They are really an independent testimony source. We review the examinations that clients are sent to through Social Security earlier on in their claim. Frequently, obviously, because they’re in every file, and the difference between those opinions and the opinions of the doctors at the hearings are very, very different. The doctors are extremely objective. Medical experts are extremely objective.|
|I personally really like having medical experts at the hearings, because our cases usually speak for themselves, and so if we can have a doctor present to testify, they may easily conclude that our client meets a listing. Whereas, if I go in and argue that the client meets a listing, again, I’m not really a doctor, so the judge can take my argument under advisement. But if the doctor says they meet a listing, then the hearing is over. The person is disabled.|
|Natalia Jofre:||Wow. So it could really work to their benefit?|
|Shelly Mark:||We’ve actually, in many cases, we’ve asked for a medical expert. If we feel like the claim is at the level that the person really needs to be evaluated as to whether they meet a listing, then we will ask for a medical expert to be present, so that that can happen.|
|Natalia Jofre:||Okay. They don’t necessarily have to grant what you’re asking for-|
|Shelly Mark:||They do not.|
|Natalia Jofre:||… but you can ask.|
|Shelly Mark:||That’s right. We still ask. And a lot of times, we do end up with it. Another, at least in my own experience, one thing that I’ve found is usually when the judges ask for a medical expert, it’s because they also have a good feeling, based on the evidence, that the person may meet a listing. Or that the person may have a favorable testimony from the doctor.|
|Natalia Jofre:||Once again, it’s verifying that opinion.|
|Natalia Jofre:||Okay. Great! If you have more questions, feel free to visit our website or call our office. Otherwise, we thank you for joining us.|
|Shelly Mark:||Thank you.|
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